Why little electronic blocks are a big deal

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    What are littleBits?

What are littleBits? 06:42

Editors note: Ayah Bdeir is an engineer, artist and inventor of littleBits, which is a next-generation, electronic version of the LEGO. With littleBits, Bdeir hopes to change the way kids learn about science and technology.

By Ayah Bdeir, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A few years ago, if you had asked me why littleBits -- the LEGO-like electronic building blocks that are the basis for my company -- mattered, I would have told you why I thought they mattered. I always thought academic disciplines were overrated and really disliked people who took themselves too seriously. Supposedly, engineers build functional things, designers make objects look pretty, business people market stuff and then consumers are left to do the purchasing. That segmented system has made for tons of bad products and unhappy people. With littleBits, I had a hunch we could throw that all in the air and reshuffle the pack.

Now, if you asked me again why littleBits matters, I can tell you how I know it matters. Every day we receive e-mail from kids, retired engineers, stay-at-home moms and fine-arts teachers saying littleBits inspired them. They say they never thought they were creative or they could be a "techie." They say they dusted off their electronics books, or modded their instruments, or started taking their kids to robotics camps. They send us pictures of projects they've made and share plans for bigger ones they dream of.


Every day I can't believe what's been happening to us. littleBits started as a small set of messy cardboard pieces sitting on a table, and over the past four years has gone from a side project, to an obsession, to a prototype, to a product, to a fast-growing snow ball.

So why not make the snow ball blink and buzz a little bit on its way.